I’m writing these words on Monday, October 2. News has broken this morning of a mass shooting in Las Vegas in which over 500 have been injured and over 50 have died.
It seems that every week brings some bad news — whether it be a shooting, or a hurricane, or something else.
I, like everyone else, am feeling sad. Where should we turn our attention, in times like these, to seek comfort?
There is a passage of Scripture which has been used for such a time as this — again, and again, and again. Indeed, I myself have used this passage in (probably) every funeral I have ever preached.
It is Psalm 23.
The Psalm begins with the words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (verses 1-3 NIV—1984 edition).
Think about those words, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” In response to the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” someone has observed, “I’ve finally found the greener grass, and it’s in Psalm 23.”
The next part of Psalm 23 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (verse 4 WEB).
God’s people can live their lives without fear, not because they naively think that nothing bad will ever happen to them, but rather because they know that, no matter what happens, God will be with them.
The next part of Psalm 23 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over” (verses 5 WEB).
I love those words, “My cup runs over.” In Ephesians 1:7-8, Paul speaks of God’s grace and says, “which He lavished on us” (NASB), or, literally, which He “made abundant toward” us (NASB margin).
We might say that God’s grace is so abundant and our metaphorical “cup” cannot contain it.
Psalm 23 ends with the words, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6 ESV).
We might say that this sentence speaks of this life (“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”) as well as eternity (“I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”).
Those words, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord,” remind me of Jesus’ promise about heaven, when He said: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places” (John 14:2 NASB).
Psalm 23 is such a comforting psalm. I encourage you to spend some time reading it and reflecting on it.
(Jake King is the preacher at Seneca Church of Christ. He can be reached at (417) 776-3077.)